Review: Otherwise Occupied by Shay Savage04:10
Author: Shay Savage
Date of publication: 14 Dec 2012
Genre: Psychological thriller, Male POV
Evan Arden is a hit man for a Chicago mob boss. He lives his life day to day with the company of his dog, Odin. He has to work hard to get back into his boss’s good graces, but the target proves to be difficult. As demons of his past begin to haunt him, he seeks the comfort of sleep from an unlikely candidate, but will confiding in her be his undoing?
He’s struggling to forget his past, and keep himself Otherwise Occupied.
This is the second book in the series and the first full length novel on Evan Arden. I quite liked his voice when we first met him in Otherwise Alone (my review). After reading this book, I am fully convinced that Ms Savage writes fascinating male POVs which is rare for female authors. Evan's voice and personality are just as powerful and engaging as Sebastian's in Surviving Raine - authentic voice of a broken male character.
This installment in the series was not a romance, as I expected, it was not even romantic suspense. It's a rather a psychological thriller with strong suspense/action elements, we are drawn deep into the mind and soul (what's left of it) of Evan. I liked his voice in the first book, I was glad to get to know him better.
He is a difficult character to like - he is so cold-blooded in his job that it gives me the shivers. Yet, he is so hard on himself, as well. The things he went through can't justify what he does at present, but still they give a reasonable explanation why he is the way he is.
I missed Lia in this book and I was conflicted about Bridgett. Her relationship with Evan does have some vague romantic elements (mostly on her part, but he also developed feelings for her, even though he was reluctant to admit it even to himself). I felt bad about Bridgett and wanted some sort of happy ending for her, though it would have been improbable. Still, I don't think she deserved what happened to her.
The story is full of twists and turns that kept me on the edge all the time. The final 1/4 was really intense both emotionally and in terms of action - Evan's inner turmoil reached its breaking point and it was presented very vividly, grabbing my full attention until the end of the book.
I feel bad about Evan and I sympathize with his situation and I really, really want him to get this happily ever after. Evan is not a good guy and he after everything he did he can never be one, yet Ms Savage made me feel deep for his suffering without being melodramatic and overly sentimental. He is a lost soul in this book, there is very little humanity left in him and I am curious how he will manage to redeem himself in the final book.
The end is not a real cliffhanger but it did made me anxious to read the next book as soon as possible. The epilogue from Lia's POV did give me a ray of hope amid Evan's complete desperation.